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September 14, 2015
BlatherComing Soon! The Blather re-launch!

It's been a long time coming. But the sweaty hands of the Chief Blatherskites are busy preparing a new Blather, to belatedly. mark our 18th birthday. Stay tuned.

November 29, 2013
NorthEmanuel Vigeland Mausoleum

This image of the mausoleum is the main one from the Emanuel Vigeland Museum website.

This has already been written about in this blog, back in 2006, but it happens that last year I wrote a piece about it for a magazine that declined to publish it. Also around the same time I reviewed a Charlemagne Palestine concert that took place in the mausoleum, which another magazine declined to publish. It seems that North is as good a place as any to merge and publish the two unpublished articles from June and August 2012.

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November 22, 2013


Rosemary Willis, a girl of ten, in a red skirt and a white, hooded top, runs on the grass alongside the limousine, filmed by Abraham Zapruder. At frame 190 of the film (Z-190), she slows down, and as she comes to a stop, she turns her head, slightly, to the Texas School Book Depository. She's heard a loud noise. At Z-202 (each frame is one eighteenth of a second), her father, Phil, takes a photo, in which the 'Black Dog Man' can be seen at the white concrete wall, holding a blurred object. The BDM will be gone by the time Philip takes his next picture. At Z-207, Abraham can no longer see Jack Kennedy in the limo; his view is blocked by the Stemmons Freeway sign. At Z-214, Rosemary suddenly turns her head, fast, away from the Book Depository; by Z-217 she is facing Abraham and the Grassy Knoll. By Z-225, Jack is back fully into view, clutching his wounded throat. Rosemary notices a man opening or closing an umbrella, and also someone behind the concrete wall, between Abraham's right side and the top of the concrete stairway, someone who she sees 'disappear the next instant'. Jack's head explodes in a red splash; a Z-frame from 313 to infinity.

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November 15, 2013
BlatherJFK and the Unspeakable


'Did the U.S. Military Plan a Nuclear First Strike for 1963?' is the title of an article by James Galbraith (son of John Kenneth Galbraith, JFK's ambassador to India), published in American Prospect vol. 5 no. 19, September 1994, and the subject of it is 'that the military presented President Kennedy with a plan for a surprise nuclear attack on the Soviet Union...'

As the window for opportunity for attacking the Soviets, before their nuclear capability reached parity with that of the US, was before the end of 1963, James W. Douglass in his book JFK and the Unspeakable (2008) ties this in with the assassination, i.e. it gives the military a motive to get rid of JFK, in order to have someone more compliant press the button, and a motive to make Oswald look like a KGB agent (that business down in Mexico), to have an excuse to attack the USSR. (Not that the post-assassination President Lyndon Johnson played along with this shit, but there you go.)

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November 8, 2013
BlatherPerils of Dominance


Many years ago now, the film JFK sparked the debate about whether Kennedy would have sent troops (combat troops) into Vietnam or not. Had he lived, would JFK have refused to do what Johnson did? Did the assassination alter the course of history in this regard? Was the assassination convenient for the military-industrial complex and the national security state, in that they got the war that they wanted? Or would it have happened anyway, but with JFK at the bloody helm?

The best we can do is examine some historical research. Gareth Porter's 2005 book Perils of Dominance - Imbalance of power and the road to war in Vietnam takes a close look at the relevant historical documents. Its fifth chapter, 'Kennedy's Struggle with the National Security Bureaucracy', contains exactly the kind of information that we're looking for.

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November 1, 2013
BlatherWilderness of Mirrors


There is another backdrop to Oswald's defection and redefection, and the Kennedy assassination, and that's the bleeding edge of the Cold War, with secret agents from Western and Eastern power blocs spying on and deceiving one another, and infiltrating each other's organizations. Oswald and the assassination may even have emerged from this world; they certainly had an effect upon it.

For reading material I suggest the classic Wilderness of Mirrors (1980) by David C. Martin, which includes an account of operations overseen by James Jesus Angleton (1917-1987), the head of Counterintelligence in the CIA from 1954 to '74, a job that involved unearthing Soviet spies in the West.

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October 25, 2013
BlatherOswald and the CIA (part three)

Photo_hsca_ex_596 oswald fpcc new orleans small.jpg

Once again this blog turns to John Newman's Oswald and the CIA (2008 edition) for evidence from the vast depths of US government files. In this way, pre-assassination documents can throw light on Lee Harvey Oswald.

Oswald in New Orleans, April-September '63

Oswald left Dallas not long after the Walker shooting, and went back to his hometown, New Orleans. Once there, he wrote to Vincent Lee, the national director of the left-wing Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC), about setting up a New Orleans branch of the organization. But 'Lee lost interest in Oswald when he violated the bylaws of the FPCC by claiming charter status' for said branch (p.289). Oswald conducted the business of his rogue 'FPCC' under the name 'A. J. Hidell, Chapter President' (p.329), and on some of the literature he handed out (see photo), the address 544 Camp Street was used. This, as Newman says, 'deepens the mystery, for this was the location where Guy Banister and the Cuban Revolutionary Council (CRC) maintained their offices' (p.289).

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October 18, 2013
BlatherMarina and Ruth

marina oswald.jpg

Today, 18 October, is Lee Harvey Oswald's birthday. He would have been 74 today (JFK would be 96). At the time of his 24th birthday, in 1963, his wife Marina and their 20-month-old daughter June were living outside Dallas in Irving, in the house of Ruth Paine. During weekdays, Lee stayed in the Dallas suburb of Oak Cliff.

His activities in New Orleans and Mexico were behind him now. He had been working in the Texas School Book Depository since the 16th. On the 20th, their second daughter, Rachel, would be born.

On his birthday, Marina and Ruth 'made quite an occasion of it. Ruth brought wine, decorated the table, and baked a cake. When the cake was carried in, glittering with candles, everybody sang, "Happy Birthday, Lee." Lee was visibly moved, and his eyes filled with tears' (Summers, The Kennedy Conspiracy, p.282).

In the 3 December 2001 issue of The New Yorker (pp.72-85), on pages in between lame, irrelevant cartoons, Thomas Mallon interviewed Ruth Paine (b.1932) about this time of her life when Marina and her children lived with her, in an article entitled 'Marina and Ruth'. It included the above photo of Marina, taken by Allan Grant of Life 'in Ruth's back yard the day after the assassination'.

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October 16, 2013
BlatherOswald and the CIA (part two)


Continuing directly from the last entry, we examine more of John Newman's trawl through the declassified files in his book Oswald and the CIA (2008 edition). Government interest in Lee Harvey Oswald began with his defection in October 1959 and continued until '63. It's time to look now at his controversial 'redefection' from the USSR back to the USA in June '62.

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October 11, 2013
BlatherOswald and the CIA (part one)


There are many mysteries about Oswald, beyond the JFK assassination - his defection, redefection, New Orleans, Mexico, etc. - and no-one seems to clear up mysteries like these better than John Newman, a professor of history and a former military intelligence officer. He trawled through the material released by the JFK Records Act 1992 with a real knowledge of how clandestine systems work, the result being the rewarding tome Oswald and the CIA (1995). I examine here the 2008 edition, with its startling 'epilogue, 2008'.

Understandably, as a defector to the USSR in 1959, Oswald was of great official interest to the US authorities from that point onwards. Newman follows 'the trails in Oswald's CIA, FBI, DOD, Navy, Army... American Embassy... State Department... [and] Immigration and Naturalization Service' files (p.xix). His book does 'not address the assassination of President Kennedy. We will not discuss Dealey Plaza. This book is content to explore the subject of Oswald and the CIA without regard to who is right and who is wrong in the larger debate about the Kennedy assassination' (p.xix).

But by avoiding Dealey Plaza, the book unexpectedly reveals that the part of the 'JFK' conundrum we should be arguing about and theorizing upon is actually the mystery of Oswald's week in Mexico, a puzzle I introduced you to in the most recent blog entries in this series.

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October 8, 2013
BlatherDeep Politics II: Oswald, Mexico, and Cuba (part two)

LHO25 mystery man crop.jpg
'Mystery Man'

Oswald in Mexico! Directly continuing from the last entry in this series, the reference book to hand is still Deep Politics II The New Revelations in U.S. Government Files 1994-1995 Essays on Oswald, Mexico and Cuba, and all page references are to that, unless otherwise stated.

The reader may recall that Nicaraguan intelligence agent Gilberto Alvarado gave up on his story that (a) Oswald was associated with the Cuban consulate in Mexico City and its official Luisa Calderon, and (b) Oswald was paid by the Cuban consulate to assassinate JFK. Alvarado retracted finally on 5 December '63 (and it is unlikely that the story was true: Calderon shows surprise upon being told of JFK's death in the 'transcripts from Cuban embassy and Cubana Airlines conversations on 22 Nov 1963' p.22). But in the meantime, while the Alvarado story was still in play, there were consequences for Silvia Durán, the only non-Cuban who worked at the consulate.

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October 4, 2013
BlatherDeep Politics II: Oswald, Mexico, and Cuba (part one)


There are mind-bending Oswald mysteries in Mexico! Peter Dale Scott's Deep Politics II The New Revelations in U.S. Government Files 1994-1995 Essays on Oswald, Mexico, and Cuba (1995) (3rd edn. 2003) is a short book with a narrower focus than Deep Politics and the Death of JFK (aka Deep Politics I - page references will be to Deep Politics II unless otherwise stated). It deals with my 'favourite' mystery of the JFK saga: Oswald in Mexico. By that I mean it's the most likely thing to make me go 'WHAT!?' repeatedly.

Oswald supposedly spent 26 Sep. - 3 Oct. '63 in Mexico City, to obtain a visa to visit Cuba (which had severed diplomatic ties with the US in '61). Win Scott, CIA station chief in Mexico, sent a cable to CIA Director John McCone on 8 Oct. (Deep Politics I, p.39; cable reproduced in John Newman, Oswald and the CIA 2008 edn., p.509), alleging a CIA intercept on 1 Oct. of 'a local call to the Soviet embassy in Mexico City' by a 'Lee Oswald' in which he 'talked of his contact with' Valeriy Kostikov (p.3), supposedly a KGB assassination expert. After Dealey Plaza, this information led to the Oswald-international-communist-conspiracy story.

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September 27, 2013
BlatherDeep Politics and the Death of JFK


'There is no danger of a deep state out of control in some way,' said William Hague, the UK's Foreign Secretary in June 2013, speaking about the Edward Snowden revelations.

'Which must be the first time a British minister has used the expression "deep state" in the House of Commons,' noted Robin Ramsay in Lobster #65. Hague's reference to the deep state points to the political writing of Peter Dale Scott and his concept of deep politics, first promulgated through Scott's 1993 book Deep Politics and the Death of JFK.

'Deep politics' (and you can see Scott introducing the topic in this video) is defined as 'all those political practises and arrangements, deliberate or not, which are usually repressed rather than acknowledged' (p.7).

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September 20, 2013
BlatherWho's Who in the JFK Assassination


This wonderful idea for a book was realized in 1993, for the 30th anniversary: Who's Who in the JFK Assassination, An A-to-Z Encyclopedia, by Michael Benson, with the subtitle Information on More than 1,400 Suspects, Victims, Witnesses, Law Enforcement Officials and Investigators. Benson begins this reference work with an introduction that identifies the appeal of the assassination to be 'the sleazy slice of grotesque Americana, the labyrinth of characters and the deeply layered plot' (p.vii), which I often feel to be the story. He even refers to the case as 'hallucinatory' (p.viii).

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September 13, 2013
BlatherReasonable Doubt (part two)

hurt-reasonable-doubt halftone.jpg

Last week we were some way into showing how Henry Hurt's Reasonable Doubt shows that Oswald did not commit murder beyond a reasonable doubt. Let doubt be our guide as we proceed...

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September 6, 2013
BlatherReasonable Doubt (part one)


The other great general book about the JFK assassination is Reasonable Doubt by Henry Hurt. First published in 1986, this is the Owl Book Edition of '87. Unfortunately it's never been updated.

It's more aggrieved in tone than The Kennedy Conspiracy, but then, Anthony Summers isn't American.

'Reasonable doubt' is 'the standard of evidence required to validate a criminal conviction in most adversarial legal systems' (Wikipedia). Under this standard, the defence doesn't have to provide an alternate explanation for how the crime happened, it only has to pick holes in the prosecution case. Hurt picks holes in the official (Warren Commission & HSCA) versions of the JFK assassination, and although his book isn't explicit about this, the first 7 chapters are enough to raise reasonable doubt and acquit Oswald of all charges.

A second meaning to the title is that by raising so many questions and pointing out so many flaws in the official investigation(s), it makes it clear why a majority of Americans don't believe the official explanations. They consider themselves to be reasonable . The truth, of course, may be as strange as the official version(s)... but Hurt's job is to raise the doubt.

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August 30, 2013
BlatherThe Kennedy Conspiracy


This week, I present one of the best general books on the assassination, The Kennedy Conspiracy by Anthony Summers. The title does not 'reflect a set view by the author' (p. ix). It remains open-minded about the lone assassin and about conspiracy theories. It rigorously hunts for the 'true facts' (p.361), and although it produces 'no solutions' (p.378), it is a readable, fascinating and commendable work. Originally published in 1980, in the aftermath of the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) investigation, it has been published under various titles over the years (Conspiracy, Not in Your Lifetime), and this is the 'revised and updated' third edition, published in 1998, the year the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) released its final report. (If you haven't heard of the HSCA investigation and the ARRB trawl for documents, they took place because over the years the US citizenry believed less and less in the Warren Commission's account of the assassination.)

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August 23, 2013
BlatherWho Shot JFK?


Here at Blather Sub-aqua HQ in the ice-caverns of Crete, we are watchful of the time, and are therefore very much cognisant of the forthcoming 50th anniversary of the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy (JFK), which took place in Dallas, Texas, on 22 November 1963. As no-one was ever tried for this violent crime, it's a murder mystery of sorts, and has been a remarkably fertile ground for conspiracy theories for decades. Indeed it was the beginning of the conspiracy culture as we know it today. A culture that Blather has fed off like a starving goat.

From now until 22 November, this blog will prime you for the anniversary, and will be, in the beginning at least, a kind of literature survey of the case.

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September 28, 2012
BlatherActually Listening to Your Record Collection (nearly)

Talk Talk.jpg

I decided to appreciate what I own. Or else what's the point of owning anything? So I have listened to almost every album in my record collection, CDs and LPs - over 500 of them, casually working through them in random order during the past 12 months. Now, with no CDs left and only 14 LPs to go, my record player has broken. Will I ever hear the vinyl again?

Read more »

September 11, 2012
BlatherBook: The Cold Edge

The Cold Edge by Dave Walsh & Duncan Cleary

To celebrate the launch of the Cold Edge exhibition of my polar photography in Dublin, on September 13, I've worked with friend and poet Duncan Cleary to create a 60-page eponymous book, The Cold Edge, via Blurb - print and iPad version. I've brought together some of what I hope are ethereal, emotional photographs of the unforgiving wilderness, wild animals and blue icebergs question our romantic relationship with remote, harsh and pristine environments. Images that resonate with a quiet tension; all may not be right in the Garden of Eden.

Read more »

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Wilderness of Mirrors (1)
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